(What I learned at the New York City Vegetarian Food Festival

Background:

You know I’m not a vegetarian, right? Not that I have anything against it, but I’m just a big fan of hamburgers, (Little Owl or Primehouse) steak, (filet mignon thank you) and chicken (barbecue anyone?). As long as we are clear, I’d like to discuss my recent experience at the New York City Vegetarian Food Festival:

The scene:

First of all, thanks to
One Green Planet
I received a VIP ticket for this festival which took place on March 3rd and 4th here in New York City. When I located the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea, where this event was being held, I was greeted with a massive line of people stretching from 6th avenue to literally halfway between 6th and 7th avenue. I was surprised at this amazing turn out, but my thought was that if so many people truly believed in this way of life then maybe I had a great deal to learn. Fortunately, my VIP ticket granted me priority entry so I was able to pass all of the people waiting on the line and just go inside. In a word: sweet!
The scene inside was even crazier and more hectic than the line I had just passed. Seriously, I haven’t seen a crowd this big since I attended a play off game at Yankee stadium last October. At this point, I would like to break down my day into good, bad, and suggestions:

The Good:

The first table I stopped at was Wholefoods and I was particularly thankful for their freebies: a nice tote bag and some delicious sweet potato pop chips. In addition, a company called hummus chips was giving sample bags of their products; the sea salt hummus chips were actually pretty good despite the fact that I don’t like hummus. I also really enjoyed sampling something called Salad Sprinkles from a company called Sheffa. Of the varieties I tried, including Mediterranean, cranberry, coconut, and sweet and salty, I enjoyed the coconut the most so I decided to buy a bag of it. This will definitely be a great addition as a topping for my salads as it is composed of soy beans, almonds, and other dried fruit flavored with coconut. While I was at this table, I sampled a savory bar from Sheffa called the everything bar. The intention was to mimic the flavor of an everything bagel and for something this nutritious it came pretty close so I also decided to purchase one.
My favorite table for sampling was definitely Sweet and Sara. These vegan desserts were amazing: I sampled the smores, rocky road bark, and peanut butter smores. I would never have guessed that these were vegan; the bark in particular was great with a shell of dark chocolate and fluffy marshmallow on the inside. I really wanted to buy some of these products but I decided to keep it healthy. I also sampled a variety of vegan cookies from various companies. As I said, it was so crowded that sometimes I would grab a sample but couldn’t figure out who made it. In general, these cookies were pretty tasty if a bit on the chewy side.
Finally, I stopped at the Honest Tea table where I tasted their green tea, lemon, and sweet tea varieties. I am no stranger to this company and really like their healthy versions of different teas although I wish the sample cups were a little bigger; the half shot size of each one didn’t give me much of a taste.

The Bad:

Navigating a crowd of this size was challenging to say the least and after wondering around the pavilion for over an hour I felt exhausted. I had no idea that so many people would flock to this event; incessantly bumping into people and trying to fight groups of people to even get near each table was a definite negative. There were two samples that I didn’t really enjoy: the worst was some kind of really spicy beef jerky, the other was a vegan grilled cheese sandwich which had no flavor whatsoever. I’m not sure if I could ever give up real cheese, and if so it would have to be for a fairly flavorful substitute. In addition, there was a man doing some kind of demonstration with a blender, possibly in the hope of selling some blenders. Sounds simple enough but there were some issues:

  1. The microphone was so distorted that I couldn’t understand what the man was saying,
  2. Eventually some samples of a mystery green liquid emerged and we were never told what was in it,
  3. The crowd just descended on those samples and it felt like fighting just to secure a shot glass of the mystery juice.

Nevertheless, the whole experience was fun and these negatives were far outweighed by the many reasons why I enjoyed the festival.

Suggestions:

I have a couple of suggestions for next year’s event.

  1. How about a snack/food bar with a great variety of vegetarian options like smoothies, fresh juices, veggie burgers and other treats? I always have wanted to try a good veggie burger but almost all of my previous attempts were unsuccessful, so a food bar would be a great idea to let everyone purchase some model vegetarian cuisine.
  2. How come there weren’t more drinks? I was anticipating smoothies, different beverages, and more freshly made juices. I couldn’t locate any of that unless it was available at a later time.

 

Walk with me through the Festival.

I recorded some audio while I was at the fair, please listen below.

 

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Conclusion:

Unless you were there this weekend at the festival, there is no way to articulate the energy that the crowd projected. It was if a certain vibe was present; it seemed that everyone had a common goal or purpose. I could easily describe the various presentations, demos, and samples, but what I will take away (besides the freebies) is the feeling I had standing in the middle of a united crowd in a jam packed pavilion. While I am not, nor may I ever be a vegetarian, I totally understand the appeal and benefits. The vegetarian food festival has inspired me: starting today I plan to incorporate more vegetarian meals into my diet. I can eat more salads, using my sweet coconut salad sprinkles, and I would like to use more fresh vegetables in my meals. I would like to thank One Green Planet once again for my VIP ticket, it has been a pleasure covering this event and I truly enjoyed the experience.

Dan

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “(What I learned at the New York City Vegetarian Food Festival

    • Hi Leslie, thanks for your comment. When do I need more Sheffa? How about now? My salad sprinkles are almost gone and my everything bar has sadly also gone missing!

  1. I really wanted to make it to this festival and am so pleased you took the time to review it. If I make it next time, I will know what to expect crowd-wise. Thanks so much!

    • Hi True Indigo, it was my pleasure to review the NYCVFF. Despite the massive crowd, I enjoyed myself and learned a great deal. (and sampled alot too) Thanks for reading and have a great day!